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How to not look like an idiot in Castle Crashers arena mode

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If you read our review, you may know that the multiplayer arena mode is my favorite part of Castle Crashers. For every few hours I've blissfully spent levelling up and killing boss monsters in the campaign mode, I've spent almost as much time beating the living daylights out of complete strangers in the four different arena modes.

What with the connection issues to be fixed relatively soon and the ever-growing number of douchebags who use boomerang exploits to grind to level 99 in a few hours, I thought it might be useful to provide a sort of strategy guide for the arena modes, in much the same way I did for Team Fortress 2 upon its initial release (back when I could pretend I was actually halfway decent at the game because nobody thought to turn around every once in a while and check for spies).

Though the Castle Crashers combat system may initially just feel like a bunch of mindless button mashing, it actually reveals itself to be pretty goddamn nuanced once you start taking your characters into the arena fights.

Hit the jump to find out how to not look like an idiot while you're there.

Learn the art of the air juggle

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Air juggling is, without a doubt, the best way to do a shitload of melee damage to your opponent in a short amount of time. While being juggled, your opponent cannot move or counterattack; while in the air, it's harder for the other players to hit you; and if you learn the ins and outs of how to do it correctly, you can chain together up to twenty individual attacks on your opponent without ever touching the ground.

Though I'm not a master at it yet, I have learned two specific things about air juggling: make sure not to hit your enemy while at the apex of your jump if he is lower than you, and your Y-button combos need to be broken up by an occasional X-button press.

If you try to air juggle an opponent at the very apex of your jump while he's lower than you, you'll get a few hits in but you won't be able to initiate the long sort of combos air juggling is great for. Once he begins to fall, you'll stay at more or less the same height and he'll drop beneath your attack area, escaping any further juggle attacks. You need to maintain a nearly identical altitude to your opponent in order to string up the longer combos, so make sure to either attack just after jumping, or right when you begin to fall.

In order to get the most hits out of a good air juggle, you'll also need to alternate between tapping the Y-button a lot, then pressing X a few times to reset the combo, then going back into another barrage of Y attacks. If the first Y-combo is done properly, you'll hit the opponent a lot (you'll see your character spin his weapon, doing damage with every spin), slam him into the ground and back up. Then it's just a matter of hitting X, and doing the whole thing over again until you move too far in one direction on the screen or the opponent falls out of your attack range.

 

Memorize the character select screen

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A surprising amount of arena strategy goes into your character choice -- not just choosing the one most suited to your play style, but also in depriving other players of the characters they are most skilled with.

If you know someone who tends to do nothing but spam the Green Knight's area attack over and over, and you feel like they've probably become so reliant on that tactic that they'll doo poorly with a different knight, don't hesitate to choose the Green Knight first. Assuming you're reasonably confident in your own abilities with that character, of course.

Your opponent will probably complain (if they don't have a microphone, this translates to them highlighting the greyed-out Green Knight icon and hitting the A button a bunch of times just to show you how angry they are that you took "their" character), but there's an intentional reason The Behemoth only allowed one type of each knight, and why they essentially turned the character select screen into a race to choose your favorite character. Every aspect of the arena experience is competitive from the moment you start it up -- if someone wants to bitch about the fact that you got to their player first, then tough titty. 

With that in mind, memorize the order of the knights in the character select screen: as your cursor randomly starts on one of the four original knights, you should know exactly how many moves it takes, and in which direction, to get to your desired knight before the other guy does. If you start on Blue and need to get to Green, you should be able to instinctively and immediately press down twice and then A. It sounds goofy and metagame-ish, but it can mean the difference between a balanced fight and a tragic loss at the hands of some spamming douchebag.

 

 

Avoid the mounts

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A few arenas will include Raptor or Camel mounts, which, while incredibly alluring to Castle Crashers newbies, are really nothing more than big, adorable deathtraps.

Considering the relative lack of juggling efficiency one gets while attacking atop a mount, they're not great for offense. Yeah, you can juggle a guy for a little while if you keep moving and attacking, but you won't get anywhere near the amount of hits in that you would from a simple, natural, All-American air juggle from the ground.

Heck, even sitting in the saddle puts you at extreme risk of being air juggled by your opponents (when sitting on a mount, your character is literally at the perfect height to be juggled for the maximum amount of itme), so the mounts are pretty useless for defense, as well.

 

Don't tolerate anyone who votes for treasure mode

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Treasure mode is the ugly, unloved adopted child of the four arena modes, in that it basically boils down to either blind luck or total douchebaggery.

You either uncover a treasuregasm* and run around the screen willy-nilly, praying to god that the most valuable jewels and trinkets happened to fall on your side of the screen, or you wait for the other person to dig a hole and steal whatever loot he uncovers after his character falls back (if your opponent is also aware of this strategy, this can more likely than not just lead to both of you standing around, waiting for the other to dig a hole just out of sheer boredom).

Anyone who votes for treasure mode, especially in a game with only two people, is to be pitied.

 

Bouncebackability

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When you fall on your back, hit A at the immediate moment of impact to spring back into. Failure to do so will make you a sitting duck for those who would hit you with magic as you attempt to get up. You can't bounce back from all falls, but it's good to get into the habit of hitting the A-button just in case.

 

The Rammy paradox

If you have the Rammy orb and your opponent doesn't, it's hilarious and you can get a lot of free hits at the beginning of a match assuming you don't mind feeling like an unfair asshole.

If he has it and you don't, it's not funny because he's a cheap asshole and you're suffering through three air combos just because you couldn't dodge Rammy's undodgeable attack at the beginning of the round.

If you both have it, it's adorable and funny because both of you get hit knocked on your asses and suffer no ill consequences afterward.

In a perfect world, no one would use Rammy. As it stands, you just have to understand that if you don't, you're taking a big risk at the beginning of any given fight.

 

Your animal orbs and weapons transfer from the campaign, your stats not quite

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I'm not even remotely sure about the specifics behind the level scaling in arena, but there is some. A level one knight does a few less points of damage and receives a few points more when fighting a level 99 knight, yet both knights will have identical magic abilities (though, again, the numerical damage they do will be different), and it is more than possible for the level one knight to defeat the level 99 knight.

Not to brag, but I was playing as a level one Orange Knight in a deathmatch against three other guys, all level 99, and I won in the end. Not bragging**, just trying to illustrate that the level scaling is not severe enough that a low-level character can be reliably beaten by a higher-level one.

The things which really make the most difference are your choices of orbs and weapons, as these (at least, as far as I can tell) have the most concrete effect on your arena stats and abilities. Rammy rams, the Chicken gives you stat boosts, and your weapons seem to have all the stat augmentations they do in the regular game.

 

Don't use bipolar bear

He doesn't attack your enemies when they get down to low health. At least, he doesn't in one-on-one duels. He's literally worthless in the arena, as far as I can tell.

 

Throw stuff

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Whether in Marksman, Beefy, or Melee, throwing is a hell of a great way to do a marginal amount of damage to your opponent whilst simultaneously knocking them on their ass, leaving them wide open for a further assault.

It's reasonably useful in Melee, but a downright indispensable tactic in Beefy and Marksman, where your actual attack abilities are severely limited by the game rules. I've had many a game of Marksman decided by who could throw the other player the most times.

 

Everyone's moves are "cheap," and thus no one's are

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The Blue Knight is cheap because he can freeze people and then air juggle them while they're incapacitated.

The Orange Knight is cheap because he does massive fire damage with extra burn damage over time. 

The Red Knight is cheap because his lightning area attack can totally immobilize its victim and do ridiculous amounts of damage every second the button is held down.

The Green Knight is cheap because all his attacks do subsequent poison damage, and his area attack hits multiple times and has significant range. His magic jump also seems to have an unusually large area of effect, but I can't be sure. The Green Knight is potentially the strongest character (ignoring the information in the next section, anyway) simply due to his immense magic strength, but it's still possible to defeat him by using your own magic abilities.

As all the main knights have "cheap" moves, the cheapness of these moves essentially cancel each other out and simply become part of the main gameplay: it's about using these moves to your advantage with your particular character, so no one character is really more "cheap" than any other.

 

IF YOU USE LIGHTNING ON SOMEONE JUST AS THEY'RE GETTING UP I WILL RAPE YOU TO DEATH WITH A WASP KNIFE

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Okay, I lied. There is one thing you can do in Castle Crashers arena fighting which is so unavoidable, so effective, and so goddamn easy to do that "cheap" is an understatement.

I will tell you a story about a guy I played a few games with the other day. We'll call him Mister Brookz, because that's his name. Mister Brookz had one of the strategies on this list down pat: he was able to, with lightning speed and 100% efficiency, choose the Red Knight before anyone else in the numerous arena matches I played with him.

Upon choosing the Red Knight, he would dabble in a bit of air juggling and some halfhearted projectile magic until finally being able to do the one thing he enjoyed doing above all else: hitting me with his area lightning just as I was getting up from a fall. 

The bastard would sit there as he held the right trigger and the Y-button, dealing 18 damage to me every quarter of a second  as I sat there for what seemed an eternity, completely powerless to do anything. By the time he was finished, about a third of my health had been depleted without his having to do anything other than walk over to my body and press two goddamn buttons, presumably while cackling like a maniac and masturbating with his other hand.

Now, you might ask, why is the tactic of shocking someone as they're getting up a "cheap" move while the Blue Knight's freeze or the Green Knight's poison, or even the concept of air juggling are not?

Where the other magics and air juggling require the opposing player to have some modicum of skill -- regardless of how lethal they may be, the player must act upon his opponent directly in order to initiate. You have to aim correctly to land a magic attack, and you have to jump into the air and start attacking to air juggle.

However, when using area lightning on a downed opponent (henceforth referred to as "Douchelightning"*), you never have to do anything other than approaching the body and activating the lightning. Dozens of things can result in a player falling on his back, very few of them requiring any action on the opponent's part: the player can get hit by the arena cats, a geyser, a charing mount, or even a totally different player, and unless it's one of the jumps you can bounce back from, you have literally no recourse if a Red Knight decides to approach your prone body and cast Douchelightning.

In four player matches, the Red Knight can, as Mister Brookz did, just wait around in the corner until someone gets knocked over and then cast Douchelightning. In one-on-one matches, it's even worse: the Red Knight just has to wait for you to get knocked over in any one of the dozen aforementioned circumstances, and ZAP -- you're missing a third of your health because there's no one in the arena to attack him and break the Douchelightning chain. Hell, even if he misses with his lighting, it takes him absolutely zero time to recover and his magic recharges so quickly that he can just keep trying everytime you get knocked over.

So: it's impossible to avoid, immensely overpowered, and requires zero skill. That, unfortunately, is cheap.

Still,you can fight back against it, in a way: if someone uses douchelightning, in a one-on-one scenario, just leave the match. If he uses it when someone else is around, team up with the other guy and beat the loving snot out of him.

That, or just track the guy down in real life and smother him with a pillow.


*Patent pending

**Yes I am  

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Anthony Burch
Anthony BurchContributor   gamer profile

Lead writer of Borderlands 2, curator of  more + disclosures


 


 



Filed under... #Castle Crashers

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